Living in a Marsupial World
 
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Festive chaos - Federation Square, New Years Eve
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Melbourne made all its public transport free for NYE - Charlie and NC on the Tram
Due to a demanding work schedule back in DC, Charlie needed to leave Oz a week earlier than Nancy. Since Charlie's last night also happened to be New Years Eve, we decided the best way to spend it would be in the middle of the madness in Melbourne. After experiencing predominantly blustery, chilly weather both along the Great Ocean Road as well as in Tassie, it came as a big shock when we walked off the airplane onto the tarmac at Melbourne International and slammed into a wall of sweltering 40+ C heat. Summer had officially arrived in Victoria, and it wanted its presence known. We joked that now Charlie and Nancy could actually experience the legendary heat of Oz, instead of the New England style weather that seemed to never want to leave. It was just too bad that Charlie didn't have more time to have a true Aussie beach day.


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The Fitzroy!
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Little Creatures NYE Beach Party!
After checking into a local caravan park, we did our best not to pass out from heat exhaustion as we got ready for the evening in the city. Our stifling cabin, sans-air conditioning, was basically an oversized EZ Bake oven with beds. As the sun dropped to the horizon and covered the city in pink and gold, we made our way to the Little Creatures Brewery restaurant, located in the heart of the Fitzroy, a fantastic, semi-grungy artfoodculture district that has become one of our favorite parts of Melbourne. It felt good to be going back to Little Creatures, as it was one of the first places Gareth took us when we arrived in Australia 8 months prior. Taking Nancy and Charlie there made it feel like Mar and I were officially finishing the circle we had drawn around the continent.


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Pshhh, who can't do that?
We soon discovered that Little Creatures had been a particularly sweet choice for New Years. For its NYE festivities, the restaurant was hosting an indoor beach party, complete with beach umbrellas and poolside lounge chairs (and most importantly no cover charge!). The employees were dressed in wonderfully ridiculous costumes, most of which involved either spandex or hideous wigs, including one fabulously gross mullet wig. Between some delicious frites and pints of liquid heaven, we were thinking our choice of NYE venues was pretty great, but our satisfaction soon turned to delight when the entertainment took to the center of the room. Little Creatures had hired two burly circus performers to dazzle the crowd intermittently throughout the night. They did the usual, amazing, two man acrobatic tricks, but what really impressed us was when one of them pulled off an armless headstand, perched atop a wine bottle. I don't care who you are, that shit's awesome.


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Ok, a handless manstand is sort of impressive...
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As midnight loomed closer, we left Little Creatures and wandered with the masses down to Federation Square for the fireworks. We soon found ourselves in a sea of people, though it wasn't oppressively dense so we were able to stake a claim on some open street real estate in the center of it all. It was in the middle of this great, multicultural gathering of people in this international city that all of us realized we had never been a part of such grand New Years Eve celebrations before. Those big televised parties that we had always seen on TV had become a reality, only better, because as we were celebrating New Years in the summertime, everyone was comfortably partying in the warm night air (rather than getting frostbite). There was the obligatory drunkard dragged away by police, and the not so expected Indian, bhangra drum dance party that both helped to set the mood for the night. 


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By all accounts Ben should be hammered in this photo, but alas... sober as a mormon.
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Live music was everywhere and we became hypnotized by all the sights and sounds, until the abrupt start of the midnight countdown took us by surprise. At 12AM, we suddenly found ourselves surrounded by a 360-degree fireworks show. All the major buildings, and a station on the river, were shooting off beautiful fireworks for what seemed like half an hour. It was an uplifting experience, an almost cliché New Years event, with all manner of folk wishing each other a Happy New Year, hugging, kissing, and singing and dancing in the street. The evening was a magical end to 2010 and, hopefully, a good omen for 2011. 


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